So Big Ag and I are officially in our 12th week of Confinement In The Time of COVID (which would be a great title for a novel if I didn't think 120,000 people were already working on their own novel under the same working title, since so many of us are now home and have the time to pen their Great American Novel).
We've got enough miles in the rearview mirror now that I feel like I can look back, in retrospective fashion, on the evolution of this whole weird, endtimes-ish experience, and see my progress from the beginning until now. Not to imply that it's over. Oh, not by a longshot. At best, we're at the end of Act One of a play of unknown length (and genre).
Month One I was afraid. It was that feeling of going up that long, first climb on a rollercoaster and knowing you're on the ride -- the steep downhill drop coming up -- for the duration. I stayed up too late (too keyed up to sleep), drank too much wine and was subject to trap-door depressions that were very hard to get out of.
In the midst of that first month, my eldest son got a probable case of COVID and we had to watch from afar while he rallied and relapsed over about a month's time.
Month Two I was angry. Angry at the deniers, the "open up" protestors, and angry at the President and almost everything that came out of his piehole during his so called press briefings on the crisis. Also, I fell slightly in love with Andrew Cuomo during this time. But mostly I was just irritable. Andrew would not have been impressed.
So here we are in Week 12 of a global pandemic where we've lost a quarter of a million souls who were all alive on New Year's Day. And I'm not sure how, but lately I find myself going about my days and into my nights with a strange new, weird kind of peace. Not feeling at peace with the lives lost or damaged, of course. But at peace with my place in the world, and the knowledge of my own personal limits to change the course of this virus, or others' behavior.
The trap-door depressions are gone, as are the feelings of helplessness and frustration.
But where is all this peace coming from?
I think it's a combination of adjustment and acceptance. And also, a forced scaling-down of my life to a very easy and undemanding place. To use a cliche, I've noticed I do "stop and smell the roses" more. Without regular lunches out on the town with new friends, I have living room zoom cocktail hours more with friends and family. Bit Ag and I sit and have breakfast, lunch and dinner together almost every day now, which we've literally never done except on vacations. And it's all been great.
The garden is producing plenty of great, fresh food right now -- onions, broccoli, strawberries, spinach and peas, so there's more on the menu. I've also gotten better at just living without whatever the store seems to be out of on any given day. I do plenty of home improvement projects, but on a more relaxed timeframe than I used to hold myself to. I guess I've realized there's no point in the projects if you don't stop and enjoy what progress you've made already.
Somewhere through all this, the house was able to become less of an ongoing makeover and more of a home, to just be relaxed in and enjoyed.
And, somehow, the repetition of the days, instead of being a source of frustration, is now a comfort. Tomorrow I will rise, I will work and then I will rest. All without artificial deadlines -- without a calendar or a clock to take me to task. The calendar and clock don't means as much as they used to anymore.
And what doesn't get done this week will get done next week, because there's nothing on next week's calendar either. It's a strange time to be sure, but within the strangeness, what a sense of quiet and peace, if I only remember to seek that out instead of my to-do list.
Gabriel Garcia Lorca may have found Love in the Time of Cholera, but I seem to have found Peace in the Time of Pandemic. Hope you have, too. But if you haven't I wouldn't worry, because the playbook for what we're going through is literally being written as we live it. There's no correct or incorrect response to it all.